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post #31 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-19-2020, 04:15 AM
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Large water changes are optional.


How is that?


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post #32 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-19-2020, 11:51 AM
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1. PPS-Pro 100% fully planted
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3. PPS-Pro with water changes (Optional)

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post #33 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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How is that?
I have high light and am floored at the prospect of 28 PPM of NO3 per week. I dose 1 ppm a day (with high light) and I know my fish/fish food provide some as well. If I put in 2ppm, I'll have GDA the next day. It might be because my tank is young, but it seems hard to believe you could leave that much excess nutrients sitting in the water column without trouble.

One other thing that is not completely understood to me is nominal or "floor" concentration. I notice people use the term PPM to mean two different things interchangeably even though they are not interchangeable quantities. The most common usage of "PPM" is actually incorrect. The PPM figures you see for PPS and EI PPM for example are really "PPM/week" not "PPM". It would be true PPM if you dumped all the nutrients for the week in at once, then the nutrients would momentarily exist at those PPMs in the water column and go down from there as they are gradually utilized.

I notice that people also refer to PPM to denote a floor level water column concentration, e.g. "you should always have 1PPM of phosphates", "your nitrates should never go lower than 10PPM" or "iron should always be measured at no lower than .1ppm". I notice that neither EI nor PPS directly talk about ideal floor concentrations. There seems to be some collective "wisdom" about it since people frequently post what PPMs one should measure at a given moment but I've yet to see any science or specifics to back up a specific floor concentration.

For example, is there a difference between:
1. Tank A - has a floor of 5ppm nitrates and 1ppm nitrates are added each day to keep up with plant demand
2. Tank B - has a floor of 0ppm nitrates and 1ppm nitrates are added each day to keep up with plant demand

Should there be any growth rate difference between Tank A and Tank B above? I would argue that there is probably no difference in growth but a big difference is that Tank A has much greater possibility of algae growth due to excess nutrients sitting in the water column.
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post #34 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 06:11 PM
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For example, is there a difference between:
1. Tank A - has a floor of 5ppm nitrates and 1ppm nitrates are added each day to keep up with plant demand
2. Tank B - has a floor of 0ppm nitrates and 1ppm nitrates are added each day to keep up with plant demand

Should there be any growth rate difference between Tank A and Tank B above? I would argue that there is probably no difference in growth but a big difference is that Tank A has much greater possibility of algae growth due to excess nutrients sitting in the water column.
I disagree.

In the above example, no doubt I would expect Tank B to exhibit faster growth.

I prefer to think of an optimal level that allows for easiest uptake for plants. For instance, let's say a heavily planted high light tank uptakes 3 ppm NO3 daily. Does that mean 3 ppm in the water column is optimal? I would say no. For a tank like mine, somewhere about 25 tp 30 ppm NO3 is optimal. At lower levels there are many fast growing stems that will not exhibit peak growth/color, and may stunt or be at less than peak health.

Plants at less than peak health are a magnet for algae. I have observed a great number of tanks over the years. In my experience, I have seen more issues arise from under dosing than over dosing, and too little is worse than too much.

Now keep in mind this is always in the context of the particular tank with a particular mix of plants. There are some tanks that are more hardscaped based with mainly Rotala's or other plants that don't require much in the water column. Then there are tanks full of Limnophila's and Ludwigia's that would prefer much higher levels. They are different animals. There is no one scheme that is optimal for all types of plants.

As to excess nutrients in the water column causing algae, this has been disproven many times over. Very old thinking in terms of planted tanks. I can dose an extra 10 ppm NO3 into my tank any time and see no uptick in algae. Most problems with algae have little to do with fertilization, other than providing too little.

It usually has more to do with intensity/duration of lighting, pH drop from CO2, and most often poor maintenance/husbandry. A dirty tank full of dissolved organics is a number one cause, and you can adjust dosing all you want and you will never fix it.

As always, just my thoughts and experience from my tank and many others that I follow closely.
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post #35 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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I disagree.

In the above example, no doubt I would expect Tank B to exhibit faster growth.

I prefer to think of an optimal level that allows for easiest uptake for plants. For instance, let's say a heavily planted high light tank uptakes 3 ppm NO3 daily. Does that mean 3 ppm in the water column is optimal? I would say no. For a tank like mine, somewhere about 25 tp 30 ppm NO3 is optimal. At lower levels there are many fast growing stems that will not exhibit peak growth/color, and may stunt or be at less than peak health.

Plants at less than peak health are a magnet for algae. I have observed a great number of tanks over the years. In my experience, I have seen more issues arise from under dosing than over dosing, and too little is worse than too much.

Now keep in mind this is always in the context of the particular tank with a particular mix of plants. There are some tanks that are more hardscaped based with mainly Rotala's or other plants that don't require much in the water column. Then there are tanks full of Limnophila's and Ludwigia's that would prefer much higher levels. They are different animals. There is no one scheme that is optimal for all types of plants.

As to excess nutrients in the water column causing algae, this has been disproven many times over. Very old thinking in terms of planted tanks. I can dose an extra 10 ppm NO3 into my tank any time and see no uptick in algae. Most problems with algae have little to do with fertilization, other than providing too little.

It usually has more to do with intensity/duration of lighting, pH drop from CO2, and most often poor maintenance/husbandry. A dirty tank full of dissolved organics is a number one cause, and you can adjust dosing all you want and you will never fix it.

As always, just my thoughts and experience from my tank and many others that I follow closely.
Very appreciate all the thoughts and experience!

I think you mean that Tank A would have faster growth.

That hypothesis would explain why my slow growing plants like anubias are doing less well than the faster growing stems plants and something I am concerned about, that at lean dosing levels the fast growers will strip the nutrients too fast and leave slow growers starving.

I don't believe nutrients trigger or "spontaneously generate" algae just that it's always present (except perhaps in the most meticulous tanks) and given nutrients and a place to grow, it will. Aquarium glass and hardscape is completely free of plants so I can't see how algae would NOT form on it if plenty of nutrients and light are available to it. There is no competitive pressure by plants in that situation. It's not on my glass (or not much) because I scrub it off. I just trimmed out some leaves that had GSA. So I think that's why an aquarium would be algae free. My guess is your tank and others are so clean that you could dump nitrates in there without causing a big problem. If it wasn't clean then it seems like it would be playing with fire putting that much in. My tank is pretty clean but I would bet at a 5PPM nitrate floor I would come down next morning to a thick green cloud.

Do these dosing regimens like PPS and EI talk about the floor concentration? It seems like they should be presented in a two step fashion: initial dose to bring to floor PPM levels, then daily/x weekly dosing (understanding that there is a heavy tailoring to each tank situation). Is there a science to setting the optimal floor PPM or just brute force trial and error?
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post #36 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 07:42 PM
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Very appreciate all the thoughts and experience!

I think you mean that Tank A would have faster growth.

That hypothesis would explain why my slow growing plants like anubias are doing less well than the faster growing stems plants and something I am concerned about, that at lean dosing levels the fast growers will strip the nutrients too fast and leave slow growers starving.

I don't believe nutrients trigger or "spontaneously generate" algae just that it's always present (except perhaps in the most meticulous tanks) and given nutrients and a place to grow, it will. Aquarium glass and hardscape is completely free of plants so I can't see how algae would NOT form on it if plenty of nutrients and light are available to it. There is no competitive pressure by plants in that situation. It's not on my glass (or not much) because I scrub it off. I just trimmed out some leaves that had GSA. So I think that's why an aquarium would be algae free. My guess is your tank and others are so clean that you could dump nitrates in there without causing a big problem. If it wasn't clean then it seems like it would be playing with fire putting that much in. My tank is pretty clean but I would bet at a 5PPM nitrate floor I would come down next morning to a thick green cloud.

Do these dosing regimens like PPS and EI talk about the floor concentration? It seems like they should be presented in a two step fashion: initial dose to bring to floor PPM levels, then daily/x weekly dosing (understanding that there is a heavy tailoring to each tank situation). Is there a science to setting the optimal floor PPM or just brute force trial and error?
Yes I meant to say tank A......thanks for pointing that out.

To be honest, I think some get carried away with testing.

If I am dosing 10 ppm of NO3 and things are going well, means little what the measured value is.

More important is consistency. And that includes consistency of light, CO2, water changes and maintenance. If you get those right, small differences in dosing matter little.

And yes it's difficult to keep a mix of plants with different needs all happy at once. I don't keep any anubias or crypts. At my light level and dosing they would likely not do well. Nor will certain Rotala like H'ra or Colorata. They will grow but never reach peak color. My tank is too rich for them.

I've said this many times. Part of the process is finding the plants that prefer the soup you are serving. Put some Pantanal into a heavily hardscaped PPS tank, and likely will not get anywhere near peak health. Pantanal likes everything is excess. It does not understand moderation. But those Rotala's will do great.

So where that does leave us? Like you said, brute force and trial and error. I've spent years testing the upper and lower limits of dosing in my tank. And have gone through the entire process again recently as I swapped to an active substrate (Landen Soil). But those numbers are unique to my particular set up. The interesting thing is that with no collaboration they end up being pretty close to other set ups very similar to mine.

That's why I always recommend seeking out successful tanks with similar set ups and goals to your own. Like I've said before, a hardscape focused ADA style tank has completely different needs than my tank of flowery stems.
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post #37 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I meant to say tank A......thanks for pointing that out.

To be honest, I think some get carried away with testing.

If I am dosing 10 ppm of NO3 and things are going well, means little what the measured value is.
To dose 10 ppm you would not need to test. To determine "there should be at least 10ppm in the water columns at all times" you would have to test for that right? I can see if you run the same tank for a long time you might have a ballpark idea for all of the above and don't need to test as much anymore.

The floor PPM or "minimum concentration" is not mentioned in too many places except posts. The plant vendors do not mention optimum concentrations for their different plants, just whether the plant likes a lot of nutrients or not. It's interesting because if its an important parameter, there should be more about it. Instead it gets conflated with weekly dosing PPMs. I think there is something to it, just need to find some data on it.
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post #38 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 09:24 PM
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I disagree.
As to excess nutrients in the water column causing algae, this has been disproven many times over. Very old thinking in terms of planted tanks. I can dose an extra 10 ppm NO3 into my tank any time and see no uptick in algae. Most problems with algae have little to do with fertilization, other than providing too little.

In tanks that are more sparsely planted, heavy fertilizer dosing can be destabilizing. In the event that algae spores are triggered, and there is a lack of plant mass available to deny the algae space to flourish, algae will spread even more quickly given the elevated nutrient levels.

Green dust algae (GDA) is very common in EI tanks if the tank is not matured enough or does not have enough plant mass for example. Algae issues in these tanks can be much worse than in tanks when water column nutrients are lean.

Iwagumis with only delicate carpets, and hardscape focused aquascapes that have large areas of open sand and rock rock have much lower nutrient requirements compared to heavily planted tanks filled with stem plants. They also have less dominant plant mass to deny algae a home. For those with Iwagumi style and hardscape style planted tank, a combination of lean dosing and good maintenance is an important step in planted tank algae control. They look deceptively simple, but actually require more experience to manage and balance compared to more fully planted tanks. Dosing fertilizers heavily in this style of tanks creates instability and is not something we would recommend.

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/al...cess-nutrients

This has been my experience as well. If I add too much fertilizer inevitably I will get some GDA on the glass, it won't happen if I have a higher plant mass. Even with good husbandry there will always be traces of DOCs and Ammonia in any live tank so eliminating algae is impossible you just have to control it by sensible choices of light intensity, fertilizer concentrations, and good husbandry. In high density planted tanks you have much greater room for error and wider range of dosing parameters before algae problems arise, this is an unlikely scenario for those struggling with establishing their tanks or working with lower plant mass type scapes.
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post #39 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ahem View Post
One other thing that is not completely understood to me is nominal or "floor" concentration. I notice people use the term PPM to mean two different things interchangeably even though they are not interchangeable quantities. The most common usage of "PPM" is actually incorrect. The PPM figures you see for PPS and EI PPM for example are really "PPM/week" not "PPM". It would be true PPM if you dumped all the nutrients for the week in at once, then the nutrients would momentarily exist at those PPMs in the water column and go down from there as they are gradually utilized.
Ppm(parts per million) refers to weight as a percentage of total weight of water and there is no other definition. Since water has a density 1g/ml weight as a function of volume of water are approximately equal and also give you ppm.

The numbers listed for EI and PPS are daily or weekly dosing amounts. There is no floor as noone knows what the uptake in your tank is or what is optimal for your plants, in the extreme case the floor would be 0ppm for all elements but the regimes are designed so that this rarely happens, but one will rarely know what the floor is as our test kits are not accurate enough nor can we easily test for all elements down to 0ppm.

The water column concentrations should always be higher than the plant uptake amounts as plants do not uptake nutrients in a linear fashion nor at the same rates in different concentrations in the water column. Leaf fertilization as opposed to root fertilization is another issue, for some plants they can be much more selectively efficient with their roots but have issues when they can only receive nutrients from the water column. For some elements and plants below a certain concentration in the water column the plants cannot readily uptake the element even if it is always present and expecially in the presence of a concentration of an antagonistic element. The uptake efficiency of plants is complicated thus knowing what the floor should be is difficult to determine.

As for the ceiling that is what is referred to as accumulation, the theoretical ceiling for any of these reset regimes is based on the percentage of water changed and assuming no loss or uptake:

Examples:

50% WC weekly the ceiling with no uptake or loss is 2X the weekly dosing
25% WC weekly the ceiling is 4X the weekly dosage
10% WC weekly the ceiling is 10X the weekly dosage

The ceilings are the case where there is no uptake or loss and if one continues to change water and dose the same weekly amount over time the limit of the accumulated concentrations will tend to the above values.
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post #40 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 11:12 PM
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In tanks that are more sparsely planted, heavy fertilizer dosing can be destabilizing. In the event that algae spores are triggered, and there is a lack of plant mass available to deny the algae space to flourish, algae will spread even more quickly given the elevated nutrient levels.

Green dust algae (GDA) is very common in EI tanks if the tank is not matured enough or does not have enough plant mass for example. Algae issues in these tanks can be much worse than in tanks when water column nutrients are lean.

Iwagumis with only delicate carpets, and hardscape focused aquascapes that have large areas of open sand and rock rock have much lower nutrient requirements compared to heavily planted tanks filled with stem plants. They also have less dominant plant mass to deny algae a home. For those with Iwagumi style and hardscape style planted tank, a combination of lean dosing and good maintenance is an important step in planted tank algae control. They look deceptively simple, but actually require more experience to manage and balance compared to more fully planted tanks. Dosing fertilizers heavily in this style of tanks creates instability and is not something we would recommend.

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/al...cess-nutrients

This has been my experience as well. If I add too much fertilizer inevitably I will get some GDA on the glass, it won't happen if I have a higher plant mass. Even with good husbandry there will always be traces of DOCs and Ammonia in any live tank so eliminating algae is impossible you just have to control it by sensible choices of light intensity, fertilizer concentrations, and good husbandry. In high density planted tanks you have much greater room for error and wider range of dosing parameters before algae problems arise, this is an unlikely scenario for those struggling with establishing their tanks or working with lower plant mass type scapes.
I don't think we disagree at all.

Like I said, a sparsely planted tank is a different animal than a densely planted tank. My method might work poorly in an ADA type set up. And likewise typical ADA dosing would work poorly in my tank.

Therein lies the issue everyone confronts. What works best in YOUR set up.

I've always said when you see successful tanks, pay close attention to the plant species and mass in the tank. That is don't blindly follow dosing of others, unless their set up is very similar to yours.
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post #41 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 12:39 AM
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In tanks that are more sparsely planted, heavy fertilizer dosing can be destabilizing. In the event that algae spores are triggered, and there is a lack of plant mass available to deny the algae space to flourish, algae will spread even more quickly given the elevated nutrient levels...

Iwagumis with only delicate carpets, and hardscape focused aquascapes that have large areas of open sand and rock rock have much lower nutrient requirements compared to heavily planted tanks filled with stem plants. They also have less dominant plant mass to deny algae a home. For those with Iwagumi style and hardscape style planted tank, a combination of lean dosing and good maintenance is an important step in planted tank algae control. They look deceptively simple, but actually require more experience to manage and balance compared to more fully planted tanks. Dosing fertilizers heavily in this style of tanks creates instability and is not something we would recommend...

This has been my experience as well. If I add too much fertilizer inevitably I will get some GDA on the glass, it won't happen if I have a higher plant mass. Even with good husbandry there will always be traces of DOCs and Ammonia in any live tank so eliminating algae is impossible you just have to control it by sensible choices of light intensity, fertilizer concentrations, and good husbandry. In high density planted tanks you have much greater room for error and wider range of dosing parameters before algae problems arise, this is an unlikely scenario for those struggling with establishing their tanks or working with lower plant mass type scapes.
I pretty much agree with you as we go up in plant mass their is more wiggle room with light, ferts, husbandry. After all haven't seen too many rocks good at uptake.

Not sure about dosed ferts though causing algae. Why would a simple little organism care if there is 3 ppm of no3 or 30? If its in the water why wouldn't it be utilized by the algae. Most dosed tanks don't run dry of no3, so it's not like the no3 runs out and the algae doesn't have nutrients available. Remember algae grows in tanks with no plants and no dosing. So the common dominator with planted tanks and dosing is organics.

Also I think there's a difference between spore development and feeding existing algae. If you can keep the spores from developing I don't think the dosed ferts matter. The spore development for me is clearly in the organics and any toxins that are released. There are just too many hardscape dominated tanks. Remember my 12g (still have it.) I dosed regular EI from the start. Not only did I have little plant mass, the mass I had were all epiphytes and I can assure you there was pretty much no visible algae. My no3 levels ranged from 40ppm to 80ppm. The husbandry is the difference removing any dead leaves, good water changes, carbon at startup or whenever needed. These redundant measures make a big difference.

6 Month Shot:



And this was my no3 reading before and after WC three months in when plant mass was low:




Obviously light management is a very important part of the equation as I went with just a 3 hr peak.
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post #42 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 12:53 AM
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I don't think we disagree at all.

Like I said, a sparsely planted tank is a different animal than a densely planted tank. My method might work poorly in an ADA type set up. And likewise typical ADA dosing would work poorly in my tank.
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If you get everything else right, you can get by on a wide range of dosing. At that point dosing is really fine tuning things. If you don't get everything else right, even the most perfect dosing scheme won't save you.

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It usually has more to do with intensity/duration of lighting, pH drop from CO2, and most often poor maintenance/husbandry. A dirty tank full of dissolved organics is a number one cause, and you can adjust dosing all you want and you will never fix it.

We agree on all of the above.


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As to excess nutrients in the water column causing algae, this has been disproven many times over.
This is where we disagree, the catalyst in an otherwise well controlled and balanced aquarium can be the excess Nutrients. Light, Organics, and Ammonia are already present, the catalyst was the excess fertilizer. The plants can remain as healthy as they were before but you can get algae on hardscape and the glass anyway.

In many tanks if you added an extra 10 - 20 ppm Nitrates or 2-5ppm Phosphates with already high light there is a good chance you can get GDA on the glass whereas with lean dosing you wouldn't. Just because you have little to no visible algae doesn't mean it isn't lurking in the background and the excess fertilizer is just the catalyst it needs to rear its ugly head. Biofilm on the glass is invisble add Fertilizer and it can turn into GDA.

You cannot gain experience on this point by observing only high plant density well balanced tanks, even my tank when full of moss was surprisingly resistant to Algae even in the absence of good husbandry. Take out that plant mass and the balance needs to be less light, less nutrients, and more meticulous husbandry.
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post #43 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 12:53 AM
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Dang @Asteroid, 100 ppm NO3? Not worried about nitrate poisoning?

@ahem to expand on what @cl3537 said regarding PPS Pro, 2 mL per day of solution #1 would be 14 ppm of NO3 per week which is about 35% less than EI levels. That would give you a MAXIMUM NO3 level of 28 ppm if you do a 50% water change. I recommend checking out this post from @Greggz for more information on dosing amount vs. accumulation amount, I found it very informative.
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post #44 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 01:05 AM
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Why would a simple little organism care if there is 3 ppm of no3 or 30? If its in the water why wouldn't it be utilized by the algae.
Algae grows much like plants it grows faster with more nutrients than without and that can be proven. There is a non linear and poorly understood relationship between DOCs, ammonia, ferts, and light on algal growth it is not just one factor.

From a hobbyiest perspective this topic continues to be of great interest and is often repeated on this forum over and over again. From an academic perspective this is not a particularly interesting topic and thus it hasn't been studied in a properly detailed and controlled manner. In my opinion a mountain of anecdotal evidence doesn't prove/disprove your point and this topic will never be resolved here.


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post #45 of 91 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 01:16 AM
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Take out that plant mass and the balance needs to be less light, less nutrients, and more meticulous husbandry.
Again we aren't far off.

As you mentioned above, plant mass, light, and husbandry are part of the balance. I would add CO2 to that list.

So are ferts the cause of algae? Or is it lack of plant mass, too much light, poor CO2, and poor husbandry?

In the end pay close attention to light/CO2/husbandry and you have much more leeway with ferts. It's true with any style/type of tank. And I agree more ADA style tanks can get by and thrive on a much lighter dosing scheme. In any tank it's all about finding that balance that works best for that set up.

And keep in mind I have nothing against lean dosing. My dosing is as lean as it has been in years.


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